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The City of Rogers has been working for the past decade to provide a solicitation ordinance that allows for people to practice their first amendment rights while keeping them safe.
On Tuesday, June 28th, The ACLU filled a lawsuit attacking the City’s ordinance. They did so with no prior attempt to notify, discuss, or advise an alternative to the ordinance with City staff.
The City’s ordinance requires a permit in order to solicit money from vehicular traffic. The permit can only be denied by the Rogers Police Chief for safety reasons. In fact, this is why the Rogers Fire Department no longer holds ‘pass the boot’ fundraisers, because it has been deemed a safety hazard for people to stand in oncoming traffic. This ordinance applies to anyone soliciting money or donations in Rogers, whether it be a non-profit or private individual. This permit can be obtained at City Hall or online at rogersar.gov.
Since it was adopted in 2008, City staff has closely monitored the changes in the law to ensure that this is a legal and safe process.
Mayor Greg Hines proposed the original legislation while serving on City Council in 2008, and was shocked by the ACLU’s approach. He released the following statement.
“I’ve been working on this ordinance for at least ten years: with lawyers, with citizens, with non-profit groups. In 2008 I found an option that everyone was ok with. Everyone agreed it was legal. Everyone agreed that it was necessary to keep someone seeking a donation for their cause from standing in on-coming traffic. I don’t want to see someone get hit by a car or cause a wreck while they’re exercising their free speech rights. I hope the ACLU doesn’t want to either. If the ACLU had called me like the lawyers, the citizens, and the non-profit groups have been doing since 2008, I would have been happy to hear their concerns and work towards a solution. Instead, they chose to grand-stand on behalf of a guy that the Rogers Police Department has never cited under our solicitation ordinance.”
The City of Rogers serves the people. It is the City’s duty to ensure that its ordinances evolve and grow to reflect the needs and desires of the community. City staff and officials are always eager to make that happen. If a citizen believes that his interests are not served by existing law, he should contact City staff or his Councilperson.